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About Your Gums

Treatments for Every Type of Gum Trouble

If you have any of these problems...

• Bad breath that doesn't go away with brushing or mouthwash

• Unpleasant taste in your mouth

• Sore, red or swollen gums

• Teeth that hurt when you eat

• Teeth that are sensitive to heat and cold

• Gums that bleed when you brush, floss or have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist

• Gums that are pulling away from your teeth

• Teeth that are spreading apart

....then you may have gum disease and you may need professional treatment from a dentist or periodontist (gum specialist).

Toothpaste and mouthwashes you buy at the drugstore will not cure gum disease. Here's what will.

Have the bacteria in your mouth tested

Improve your daily oral care, then have your gums rechecked by a dental professional

Deep cleaning

Prescription antiseptic or antibiotic rinse

Prescription oral antibiotic

Reduce gum pockets

Surgery

 

Have the bacteria in your mouth tested

Sometimes gum disease can start unexpectedly as a result of illness, stress, or poor diet. And there may be no  visible symptoms that you have it. If a dentist or dental hygienist suggests your gums may not be healthy, ask to have your mouth tested for gum disease. This is called a microbial analysis.

There are hundreds of bacteria that can live in the mouth. Some  are good bacteria that you want to protect. Others are harmful and cause cavities, gum disease and breath odour. A microbial analysis identifies whether your mouth has too many harmful bacteria.

For this test, the dentist or dental hygienist simply swabs your tongue and teeth to gather a sample of bacteria in different parts of your mouth. The sample goes to a laboratory to identify the types, locations and levels of bacteria.  When your dentist or hygienist receives the results of the test, he or she can advise you whether you require any type of treatment.

Since this type of screening is inexpensive and only takes a few minutes, it's a smart way to both treat – and prevent – gum disease from harming your health.

 

Improve your daily oral care, then have your gums rechecked by a dental professional

Sometimes early gum disease can be reversed when you change your oral care routine. For example, the dentist or dental hygienist may suggest that you change the way you brush or clean between your teeth. Since bacteria gather along the gum line they might recommend brushing in gentle circles where your teeth and gums meet to help dislodge bacteria.

Many people don't like flossing, however it's very important to clean out the bacteria between your teeth. Therefore your dental professional may suggest trying a soft pick brush, a pre-threaded flosser, water flosser,  interdental brush or a plaque pick made of plastic or soft wood. Try a few options until you find one that you're comfortable using.

In order to ensure that gum disease doesn't progress, it's important to follow suggestions and then return for a re-evaluation to determine if this approach is working or whether you may need other treatment.

 

Deep cleaning

If your dentist or hygienist determines that you have plaque and tartar under the gums that must be removed because they are harming your gums and teeth, he or she may recommend deep cleaning (also called scaling and root planing).

This involves scraping away deposits from above and below the gum line and smoothing rough spots on the roots of teeth to remove bacteria. This provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Deep cleaning may be performed with local anaesthetic so it's not painful.

Along with deep cleaning, if your gums have significant bleeding or deep pockets, the dentist may prescribe a single or short-term antibiotic (bacteria-killing) treatment to prevent harmful bacteria from returning. These can be prescribed in the form of a capsule, rinse, cream, chip, gel or powder. Proper oral care can then prevent the return of gum disease.

 

Prescription antiseptic or antibiotic rinse

If your gums show early signs of gum disease and proper oral care is not helping, sometimes the dentist may prescribe a stronger mouthwash than the national brands you can buy yourself at the drugstore. These rinses contain antiseptics, sodium chlorite or essential oils that slow the growth of certain types of harmful bacteria and can reduce inflammation in your gums. While national mouthwash brands that you buy in the drugstore can reduce symptoms of mild gum disease by about 11%, antiseptic rinses that your dental professional prescribes for you are more effective, reducing symptoms by about 40%.

For many people, however, the bacteria that cause gum disease are not killed by antiseptics – neither national brands nor prescriptions. In these cases the dentist may prescribe a rinse with antibiotics, like Oravital that is targeted to destroying the specific harmful bacteria living in your mouth. This type of antibiotic rinse is effective in reducing both mild and moderate gum disease by about 85%.

An easy test called a microbial analysis can identify problem-causing bacteria and determine the most effective antibiotics to kill them. An antibiotic rinse that kills the germs that are causing the infection without causing damage to other healthy bacteria in the mouth is one of the safest and best treatments for treating oral infections without oral medication side effects such as upset stomach and diarrhea. Typically, a couple of weeks of use will eliminate harmful bacteria and proper oral care can prevent the return of disease.

 

Prescription oral antibiotic

If you have very deep pockets of infection that can't be reached by deep cleaning or a prescription mouthrinse, the dentist or periodontist may recommend oral antibiotics. These are taken by mouth in the form of tablets or capsules and are generally prescribed as a short-term treatment.

 

Reduce gum pockets

When you have advanced gum (periodontal) disease, the pockets around the teeth become deeper and bacteria accumulate where they cannot be cleaned, causing more damage to the underlying tissue and bone.

In this case, the dentist or periodontist may recommend periodontal pocket reduction. This involves folding back the gum tissue, removing bacteria, smoothing any rough surfaces of damaged bone and then resecuring the gums snugly to the teeth. Your dental professional may also recommend a short-term antibiotic treatment in the form of a tablet, capsule, rinse, cream, chip, gel or powder to prevent harmful bacteria from returning.

Then it's up to you to keep your gums healthy with good daily care.

 

Surgery

If periodontal disease is so advanced that the teeth and bones are badly damaged, then surgery such as tissue or bone grafts, may be needed to save them. These aren't pleasant procedures to go through – so don't let gum disease advance this far if you can avoid it! Follow our tips for keeping your gums healthy.